Robotics camp helps spur creativity

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Amelia Whitley, 5, left, and Peyton Applebee, 6, laugh as their Lego robotics drumming monkey begins moving after they finished building it Friday during the Brick Scholars Animal Safari: K-2 Coding Class at the Gateway Technology Center.


Staff Writer

Monday, February 26, 2018

A group of small children got a chance Friday to build Lego animals within a fun and learning environment.

The children in kindergarten through second grade were given the opportunity to explore Lego Robotics and introductory coding as they built and programed Lego animal robots in an innovative and challenging  STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) course at the East Carolina University/N.C. State Collaborative at the Gateway Technology Center on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan campus.

Megan Oteri, a longtime eduator at Wilson County Schools, is the founder of Brick Scholars, which is a mobile STEAM lab providing educational, creative and innovative learning opportunities for children to brick and learn. Brick Scholars’ STEAM-focused curriculum provides engaging, creative and fun educational programs and professional development using Lego education products, Oteri added.

“All Brick Scholars programs integrate creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication,” Oteri said. “Also, we train educators, homeschool parents and education based organization leaders how to implement Lego Education WeDo 2.0 into their curriculum.”

On Friday, the young students participated in the Animal Safari camp, which was a STEAM class that Oteri said integrates storytelling and robotics. The students built Lego robotic animals like alligators, birds and monkeys, while also getting them to move and make sounds. 

Millicent Edwards brought her son David Edwards, a second-grader at Wilson Preparatory Academy, to the animal safari camp. She said David loves Legos and being involved in the four-week course helped him tap into his creativity.

“It’s something fun and different that he wouldn’t do or learn in a traditional classroom setting,” Edwards said. “Megan is very good in the classroom, and she understands how important it is to introduce young kids like my son to activities involving STEM because now it involves every part of our lives.”

Oteri, who taught special education, said she is used to working with students that learn differently and using hands-on learning has always been a powerful tool of learning. Oteri believes it’s important to bring and incorporate innovative learning methods to Eastern North Carolina.

Oteri added she has seen children who have struggled in traditional learning environments like reading a textbook and answering questions. However, she said, when they’re able to use a different modality of learning they’re able to excel, which empowers them and gives them confidence.

“I thought there was a need in my community to offer enrichment programs that helped kids take off, but also kids that are struggling to learn new concepts,” Oteri said. “This is a skill that is needed because as we move forward things are moving so rapidly and creativity is something students are struggling with because they aren’t giving that opportunity in school to be creative.”

For more information about Brick Scholars or upcoming events and activities, go to www.brickscholars.com